Mark Bailey and John Butler, representing the Armagh Observatory, attended the official Ground-Breaking Ceremony for SALT, at Sutherland on 1 September 2000. Valuable contacts with partner institutions and some related press coverage were obtained.
SALT is an international project currently involving astronomers from six countries. These include: South Africa (the SAAO and the South African National Research Foundation, under the auspices of the South African Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology); Poland (the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences); the USA (the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Founding Institutions [the University of Texas at Austin and Pennsylvania State University], Rutgers University the State University of New Jersey, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of North Carolina); Germany (the Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen); New Zealand (the University of Canterbury); and a consortium of UK institutes (the Armagh Observatory, the University of Central Lancashire, the University of Keele, the University of Nottingham, Southampton University and the Open University). Further details about SALT and the UK SALT Consortium (UKSC) can be obtained from the SALT home page, available from both the Armagh Observatory web-page: http://www.arm.ac.uk/SALT/ and the University of Central Lancashire UKSC site: http://www.star.uclan.ac.uk/aes/SALT/.
The Observatory's participation in SALT will provide valuable scientific and technological opportunities for Armagh Observatory staff, students and research associates over at least the next 15 years, as well as research collaborations with other national and international partners. This will facilitate Armagh's involvement in frontline astronomical research, and maintain the Observatory's position as a world-class astronomical research institute well into the 21st century.
A summary report of the SALT Ground-Breaking Ceremony was published in the December 2000 issue of Astronomy & Geophysics (41, 6.31, 2000). Images of the Ground Breaking Ceremony are available from the Observatory web-site, as too are up-to-date images of SALT construction in progress.